Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Why Every California Student Should Have Access to 'Gifted' Classes
gvw_calmatters
By CalMatters
Published 4 weeks ago on
June 24, 2024

In the Golden State, the 'gifted' label can be a double-edged sword, offering opportunities but also isolating students who would benefit from more diverse educational settings. (CalMatters/Lauren Justice)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Academic success is as much dependent on how students feel about themselves as the letter grades that fill their transcripts. In fact, the two might be more correlated than they appear.

Dan Walters Profile Picture
Thomas Stewart

CalMatters

Opinion

When I was in first grade, my parents applied for a local elementary school in Fresno that featured a so-called Gifted and Talented Education program. The school was nationally recognized and boasted impressive academic success rates, so who wouldn’t want to send their kid there?

After passing a test, I was admitted into the school. My family was so excited. I had gained access to take strategically accelerated courses taught by specially trained teachers.

The world was at my fingertips.

But now as a rising sophomore in college, I think about the consequences of applying a “gifted” label to California children. I eventually realized that students in the program rarely got the chance to interact with those outside of it. This separation endured throughout high school and was paired with the pressure of living up to the gifted label.

Studies have shown that gifted students have a higher risk of adverse mental health issues than the average student. On the other hand, students that participate in standard or remedial courses are more likely to remain stuck on that academic track — even if they are perfectly capable of performing at a higher level. It’s been proven that a student’s collegiate performance is proportional to the rigor of their high school curriculum, which means that underestimating a student can limit their potential.

The Psychological Impact on All Students

We are left with a lose-lose situation that has detrimental psychological effects on all students. Gifted students lack the opportunity to engage with more of their school community while standardized students are deprived of amazing educational opportunities. This social distinction endures throughout and after high school, leaving both groups feeling as though there is no place in which they can interact — as though they are inherently different.

We cherished the years I spent in the gifted program during elementary school, and I thrived with the knowledge that I had the potential to challenge myself academically. Being immersed in an enriched academic environment early on gave me the confidence and preparation to tackle advanced placement and honors courses in high school without a second thought.

By the time I reached high school I immediately felt at home, but it was largely because I was going to school with the same kids from elementary school. While this fostered a sense of community, I often felt restricted when it came to meeting students who weren’t taking advanced courses.

After years of gifted classes, I began to question just what this system was. A conversation with my high school principal later revealed that my high school didn’t actually feature any gifted courses.

Since these courses were not taught by teachers specially trained in the program’s methods, there was no meaningful difference between gifted courses and regular courses. Given how the state funds its public school system, California’s gifted program has become more of a label than an access point to advanced education.

The Need for Equal Access to Gifted Education

As I reflect on my experiences, I think of how my mother often credits my experience in the gifted program as the kickstarter to my success in secondary schooling and my overall development.

I couldn’t agree more. I believe that all children should have access to the resources of the gifted education program. This approach would eliminate the isolating effects of the current system, while providing “gifted” and “standard” students with different educational experiences that better fit their abilities.

Limiting either group is, and has been, a disservice. Through an equalized curriculum, we can initiate change and build a brighter, stronger future for California students.

About the Author

Thomas Stewart is a student at Columbia University and a Fresno native.

Make Your Voice Heard

GV Wire encourages vigorous debate from people and organizations on local, state, and national issues. Submit your op-ed to bmcewen@gvwire.com for consideration.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

49ers GM: We Have No Intention of Dealing Brandon Aiyuk

DON'T MISS

Reality Show Contestant Apologizes After Eating Protected Bird

DON'T MISS

Wildfires Send About 25,000 Fleeing From Canadian Rockies’ Largest National Park and Nearby Town

DON'T MISS

Surprise Blast of Rock, Water and Steam Sends Dozens Running for Safety in Yellowstone

DON'T MISS

Review: Candlelight Delivers an Enchanting Performance

DON'T MISS

Fresno State’s All-Time Sacks Leader Will Be Inducted Into Football Ring of Honor

DON'T MISS

Watch Out, Fresno. That ‘Summer Cold’ Might Be COVID.

DON'T MISS

Tesla’s Profit Fell 45% in Second Quarter on Weak EV Sales

DON'T MISS

Israeli Authorities Announce Largest Land Seizure in 30 Years

DON'T MISS

Trump Announces He Will Meet with Netanyahu on Friday at Mar-a-Lago

UP NEXT

Reality Show Contestant Apologizes After Eating Protected Bird

UP NEXT

Wildfires Send About 25,000 Fleeing From Canadian Rockies’ Largest National Park and Nearby Town

UP NEXT

Surprise Blast of Rock, Water and Steam Sends Dozens Running for Safety in Yellowstone

UP NEXT

Fresno State’s All-Time Sacks Leader Will Be Inducted Into Football Ring of Honor

UP NEXT

Watch Out, Fresno. That ‘Summer Cold’ Might Be COVID.

UP NEXT

Tesla’s Profit Fell 45% in Second Quarter on Weak EV Sales

UP NEXT

Israeli Authorities Announce Largest Land Seizure in 30 Years

UP NEXT

Trump Announces He Will Meet with Netanyahu on Friday at Mar-a-Lago

UP NEXT

Fresno Wants to Expand Radio Park. Will It Force a Convenience Store to Sell?

UP NEXT

Clip Resurfaces of Vance Criticizing Harris for Being ‘Childless,’ Testing Trump’s New Running Mate

Surprise Blast of Rock, Water and Steam Sends Dozens Running for Safety in Yellowstone

7 hours ago

Review: Candlelight Delivers an Enchanting Performance

7 hours ago

Fresno State’s All-Time Sacks Leader Will Be Inducted Into Football Ring of Honor

8 hours ago

Watch Out, Fresno. That ‘Summer Cold’ Might Be COVID.

9 hours ago

Tesla’s Profit Fell 45% in Second Quarter on Weak EV Sales

9 hours ago

Israeli Authorities Announce Largest Land Seizure in 30 Years

9 hours ago

Trump Announces He Will Meet with Netanyahu on Friday at Mar-a-Lago

9 hours ago

Fresno Wants to Expand Radio Park. Will It Force a Convenience Store to Sell?

9 hours ago

Clip Resurfaces of Vance Criticizing Harris for Being ‘Childless,’ Testing Trump’s New Running Mate

9 hours ago

Is California Ready for Its Close-Up? Trump Will Demonize the State and Harris

9 hours ago

49ers GM: We Have No Intention of Dealing Brandon Aiyuk

SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers have no intention of granting star receiver Brandon Aiyuk his trade request and remain committed to ge...

6 hours ago

6 hours ago

49ers GM: We Have No Intention of Dealing Brandon Aiyuk

6 hours ago

Reality Show Contestant Apologizes After Eating Protected Bird

7 hours ago

Wildfires Send About 25,000 Fleeing From Canadian Rockies’ Largest National Park and Nearby Town

7 hours ago

Surprise Blast of Rock, Water and Steam Sends Dozens Running for Safety in Yellowstone

7 hours ago

Review: Candlelight Delivers an Enchanting Performance

8 hours ago

Fresno State’s All-Time Sacks Leader Will Be Inducted Into Football Ring of Honor

Photo of an antibody blood tube
9 hours ago

Watch Out, Fresno. That ‘Summer Cold’ Might Be COVID.

9 hours ago

Tesla’s Profit Fell 45% in Second Quarter on Weak EV Sales

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend